A sixteen-year-old boy struck down by a circulatory arrest caused by ecstasy, a nineteen-year-old who has died after having sipped on a mysterious drink, three young people who have ended up in ethylic coma at the end of a crazy night on the beaches of Brindisi. As if it were not enough, the mystery of the sixteen-year-old from Messina who has been found dead on the shoreline of a private Tennis and Sailing Club. Teenagers as many others, who had left one night of this scorching summer and have never returned to their homes or who, in the best-case scenario, have woken up in a hospital bed. Stories of an extreme movida, of boredom that turns into transgression, or of desire to feel adults for one night, biting on the forbidden fruit. And suddenly we realize that we cannot go on like this. That adolescents need attention, need to be kept away from bad companies, and to be raised according to sound values. Obviously, always later.
The substances that kill and cause sickness are almost always alcohol and drugs, taken in order to feel lighter for a few hours. To forget problems, or, more simply, to give it a try. A 2014 study of the Adolescents Observatory, a branch of the Childline, and DoxaKids (2014) revealed that at least 13% of young people from 11 to 19 years of age have acknowledged that they make use drugs, without distinguishing between the “heavy” and the “light” ones. Underestimated data, if one considers that about half of the interviewed has reported that they know at least one habitual consumer. Even more frightening is the result of a research carried out by the Institute of Clinical Physiology of the Pisan Cnr on 54 thousand high school students. 2.3% of the interviewed has affirmed to have taken drugs without knowing what kind of substance it was. A game of Russian roulette that potentially happens every day and the consequences of which need not to be described.
As to alcohol, numbers are even more alarming. Still according to Childline, 50.6% of adolescents from 11 (sic!) to 19 years of age has said that they have consumed alcohol and 49.9 % that they have got drunk at least once. To make the scenario even gloomier contributes the explosion of the phenomenon of “binge drinking” which consists in drinking cocktails and distilled over a short period of time, so as to reach immediately the desired level of drunkenness. This practice involves at least 60% of the young people interviewed by the Italian Foundation Research in Hepatology, and is often associated with a subsequent crime, and has serious health implications, as it can cause permanent damage to brain and liver. Alcohol causes an average of 17 thousand deaths a year; in Italy it is the first cause of death among young people.
But often, for those who are looking for their “crazy night”, a glass or two are not enough. To get high, thus, becomes necessary to drink and do drugs at the same time. It is the so-called “multi-drug abuse” phenomenon, particularly widespread among teenagers, as confirmed by a study of the Adolescents Observatory. The greatest risks regard, obviously, safety and health, for themselves and others, for the short and long terms: reduced mental lucidity, risk of traffic collisions, reduced performance or school drop-out, development of addiction (to a single substance or a mixed one).
This dramatic situation involves many, too many young people and has been well described by the head of the Neuroscience Department of the Fatebenefratelli hospital in Milan, the psychiatrist Claudio Mencacci, who for Adnkronos, talked of “young people with sad passions who are looking for strong emotions”. Of teenagers left adrift in a “culture of binge that applies to drugs, but also to alcohol and food”. And that becomes a “race to overcome every limit and lose control, in the dramatic ignorance of what substances are taken and of the possible effects of the various modes of their consumption”. A transgression culture that leads “from dancing to death” in “a very short time” without giving the consumer time to notice it. And families have nothing else to do but to despair.